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Top 6 Places to Feature Handmade Tile with Fireclay Tile

Tile has had a place in our homes for thousands of years and, as a building material that can last nearly as long, its a fantastic way to finish a kitchen, bathroom, and beyond. While most tile offers durability, artisan handmade tile adds a one-of-a-kind aesthetic to that turns a project into a work of art.

So where does tile work best and what type of tile should you use? Fireclay Tile is sharing their top spots to feature handmade tile. 

1. Kitchen Backsplash

Image credits: Design: Erin Fetherston // Image: Elizabeth Messina

The backsplash has become a focal point for the kitchen and an obvious canvas for incredible tile creations. Fireclay’s ceramic, brick, glass and hand painted tiles are all suitable for a backsplash. But choosing material is just the beginning to deciding on a design. 

First, focus on color. What are the dominant colors in your kitchen already or, if you’re doing a full remodel or building from scratch, what color will you choose? Next, do you want your backsplash to blend in or stand out? This will help you decide between neutrals or a bolder shade. 

Next, how big do you want the backsplash to be? Counter to ceiling? Counter to part way up a wall? Counter to cabinets? Identify the layout of your space and decide where you wish the tile to extend to. 

A design involves not just the shape of the individual tiles but the pattern you’ll arrange them in. Fireclay offers multiple sizes of field tile (squares or rectangles), as well as specialty shapes for you to choose from. 

Lastly, be honest with yourself up front about lead times and budget. This will simplify your decision making process and smooth the ordering and installation experience.

To learn more about designing a kitchen backsplash, check out this article.

For its durability and water resistance–and in the case of glass tile, waterproofness–tile is a classic choice for floors throughout the home (and in certain climates, outside as well). You can most commonly find tile on bathroom or kitchen floors where water, debris, and heavy traffic are unsuitable for other flooring options.

While many designers will specify a glossy glaze for floor tiles, a matte glaze will offer more traction, but it’s up you and the look you’re going for. 

Neutral colors are the most popular for floor tiles. This can range from brilliant white to cool greys to earthy taupes and beiges. These neutrals will pair well with other colors in a space and stand the test of time better than accent colors.

Ceramic tile is going to be your best bet for floors. Brick can be used in residential settings and glass shapes under 3” will work as well, but ceramic tile offers the widest range of applications, strength and choices of color and shape.

Learn more about tile flooring here.

3. Showers

Design: Kimberly Pinola // Image: John Park

A shower is the place where some designers pull out all the stops. As a contained area, you can go all out without overwhelming the space, making the shower a great place to be a bit more playful or bold if you wish. 

Ceramic tile is a classic choice here and if we’re talking classics, a white subway tile shower will always be in style. But if you’re feeling more inventive, an accent color, specialty shape or creative pattern will draw attention to the shower and provide a memorable moment in your bathroom.

Glass tile is impervious to water and give a shower a modern appeal. Check out Fireclay’s comparison of ceramic tile vs glass tile in the shower here. Brick on the other hand introduces more texture and rustic character to a shower that’s perfect for a more robust design. Keep in mind though that Glazed Thin Brick is only suitable for shower walls, not shower pan floors. 

Speaking of shower floors, while it’s not absolutely necessary, not only will matte glazes provide increased traction in this wet area, smaller shapes will too thanks to a greater proportion of grout lines. Learn more about shower floors here.

Finally, don’t forget to consider adding a niche. These handy shelves help organize your soaps and sundries and create another opportunity for design detail. Fireclay has everything you need to know about niches here.

4. Bathroom Backsplash

Design: The Brownstone Boys // Image: Nick Glimenakis

The kitchen may be the first place you think of when it comes to backsplash design. But the bathroom is equally welcoming to tile design and just as in need of protection. 

A vanity backsplash can match the shower, coordinate with your floors or be a totally independent design. It can link up with a broader wall tile design or be contained to the vanity area. It can go from sink to ceiling or simply be a few square feet. 

This last point is important when it comes to budgets. Where you may not spring for a spendier mosaic or hand painted tile on a large scale project, a small bathroom backsplash can call for for something special without blowing your budget. 

Check out Fireclay Tiles favorite bathroom backsplash ideas here.

5. Pools

Design: Samantha Klein // Image: Marj Cruz

Pool design is very much having a moment right now, and who can blame homeowners and designers? If you’re making the investment in a backyard pool, the vinyl liners you may remember from yesteryears may have some up front cost savings but lack the beauty and durability that tile brings to a pool. 

If you don’t want to tile every inch of pool, key places to feature tile in a pool are the waterline, stairs, sun shelf, spa ledge and deck.

When it comes to materials, glass, ceramic and porcelain are your best options for both in and around a pool. Glass in particular is a perfect choice for pools being impervious to water as well as resistant to chemical attack. It also stands up to rapid cooling and heating in case you’re dreaming of a desert oasis. Last but not least, glass tile offers the beautiful reflective quality that goes hand in hand with sunshine and water. 

For more pool inspiration, check out this list of ideas here.

6. Fireplaces

Design: Ginny D Design // Image: Hendrickson Photo

Finally we come to the fireplace, the OG focal point of a home. Today though, there’s more than a flickering flame to catch your eye, with designers creating tile installations that range from classic and conservative to contemporary and courageous. 

Once again, all of Fireclay’s tile–ceramic, brick, glass and hand painted–are suitable for hearths, headers, surrounds, mantles, and chimney facades. Material, color and pattern can each be considered to match a design style, era or personal preference. 

A neutral brick tile in an offset pattern for example will create a familiar traditional design while a neutral ceramic tile in a straight-stacked pattern will move the design in a modern direction. Hand painted tile is an excellent choice for craftsman homes where a fireplace is sure to be found. 

Find inspiration for your fireplace with this round up of Fireclays 55 favorite designs.

There you go, the top 6 places to feature handmade tile. While these are the most common applications, they are far from the limit. For as timeless as tile is, we’re regularly amazed by how and where designers are able to use tile to transform a space. So where can tile work in yours?

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